Copyright issue in Wiki post

  1. If the user delete a Wiki post created by itself, but it has been edited by others, how can other users protect their copyright?

  2. If a user self-wiki its post, other users edit it, then that user remove wiki and delete other users’ content by editing that post, how can other users protect their copyright?


Hi @Teafh :wave: welcome :slight_smile:
hmm. copyright? what do you mean by this? Are you saying your posts are copyrighted? I wonder if this is a translation issue. Do you just mean post ownership? I’m not understanding what you are asking? Wiki posts are meant for others to be able to edit.


What is in your terms of service for your website?

I’m no lawyer but you are strongly advised to consider a Creative Commons licence - which essentially involves users giving up exclusive rights to content when they post on your website, e.g.:

3. User Content License

User contributions are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

“Creative Commons licenses are legal tools that help you grant copyright permissions to the general public.”

So I read that as posters losing exclusive copyright and it becomes material which can be used elsewhere so long as the website is attributed.

(I’ve just noticed that licence is slightly out of date, btw, there’s a new version 4.0)


Oh and this entry in my Terms of Service is very relevant to the OP:

“Specifically, Merefield Technology has the right and will sometimes re-arrange user contributions to better organise content for the benefit of the community, usually by means of Moderation Tools. When you post on this site be aware of this. Merefield Technology does not need your permission to do this and you must expect this to happen on occasion.”

Not quite the same as a Wiki situation where multiple users are involved, but you might want to think about how you might phrase something similar to cover your Wikis if the above is not sufficient and not covered strictly by the term “moderation tool” - is a wiki a kind of moderation tool? :thinking:


Thank you for your reply. @Lilly @merefield

I understand the difference between copyright and ownership, but someone in my forum is asking for the Copyright of Wiki posts, and I’m wondering how to explain, or revise our ToS.

Yeah that’s a good idea, we want to use CC0 but it seems to be legal only in the US?

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Users give up theirs copyright. It should be mentioned in T&C, but I’m absolutely sure that everywhere (in development countries anyway) the very nature of wikis, eg. everyone’s ability to edit, change and delete, will nullify (is that english word in right context :thinking: ) copyrights anyway. Images are bit different story, though.

(Sure, copyright per se is a right that can’t give away, and here it is actually matter of ownership in the context of publisher; basically same thing)


Sounds like a great question to ask at Wikipedia or a wiki management site.


I think this means prohibiting the removal of wiki topics by users without the permission of the administrator. Since the user deletes not only his own content, but also the general content of all users in this topic.

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Totally agree. When someone creates a post, I believe there should be some copyright stuff related to the site owner, whether it’s Wiki or not.

And this is the key problem here.

In Discourse, the setting for make/remove Wiki is the same one: self wiki allowed groups. But I think the ability to remove Wiki should be limited to Staff only.

When edit history visible to public is disabled, and the post owner removed Wiki, normal user, including non-staff user who edited that post, won’t be able to access the revision history, which causes copyright disputes.

Finally, a Wiki post should not have the possibility to be deleted by the post owner.

Well, maybe I should create a topic in feature :thinking:.

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Are you saying they aren’t?

A copyright is secured automatically when the work is created, as long as the work contains a sufficient degree of originality
Source: Copyright basics | USPTO

@Teafh You can have a look into “collective work”, which a wiki probably is. You usually have an history and all the revisions, so it all works fairly well. But, it’s an interesting question in case of deletions. Basically: Should the initial author have the right to destroy and delete the work of all other people?

If you take the example of the US Copyright Act of 1976, its Article 201 (c) states:

Copyright in each separate contribution to a collective work is distinct from copyright in the collective work as a whole, and vests initially in the author of the contribution.

To answer your question, I guess you would need to keep somehow all the portions which have been contributed by other people in order to allow them to republish it, for example. When deleted, the wiki post should be archived somewhere, and only what has actually been contributed by the initial author should be deleted. I don’t think that’s possible or been taken care of at al by the software, at the moment.

Or you would have to go with some rules on your end. Like for example “a wiki post can’t be deleted anymore” (the initial author could still edit out all of his work) or “all contributors have to agree”.


By default that’s how it works in Discourse. When you post something on a wiki, the assumption and expectation is that anyone can edit it. That’s what a wiki is. And on any Discourse forum where you are the administrator, you can implement any rules you like.

Right! You own the copyright to your work. You do not own the right to have it published on a web site forever. If someone deletes your work from a web site–because for the past 20 years or more, that’s how everyone expects wikis work–you still own the copyright to that work. If having a copy or your copyrighted work is important to you, then you should print it out and put it in a safe place.

Also, Discourse wikis, like most wikis, do retain (almost) all versions of the document, so in most circumstances, you can see an old version to get a copy of your work.


@pfaffman I believe you’re right. Deleting doesn’t infringe on your copyright. I went in a wrong direction, here. I also agree with the version thing, but this does disappear in case of deletion, doesn’t it?

Now, there is a difference between “forever” and arbitrary deletions because of another user. Hosting its users contributions is the purpose of a forum. OP may be right to want to address this somehow.

“Copyright” may indeed be the wrong term in this matter, after all. ( @Lilly ).


@Mevo @pfaffman Thanks for your professional reply :smiling_face:.

I think this is the answer to my question, as what the copyright is defined.


Interesting article on the subject that contains the relevant clauses some big platforms use to gain a licence to use your content.

I take this to mean by posting on a site you agree to licence it but you retain ultimate copyright.

However the licence conveys some rights to the site over your content (but does not transfer copyright)


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